San Diego Sheriff Homicide detectives searched the home of the woman accused of murdering a 22-year-old military wife whose body was found in Riverside County.
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Detectives at the home in Fallbrook confirmed to 10News that they were searching the home of Jessica Lynn Lopez for evidence in connection to the murder of Brittany Killgore.
Neighbors also told 10News that investigators spent hours Thursday interviewing people in the neighborhood about Lopez.
Earlier Thursday, Lopez pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge during a brief court hearing in Vista. She faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted in the death of Killgore.
Killgore's body was found Tuesday near Temecula, north of Lake Skinner, just hours after Lopez's arrest. Sheriff's Capt. Duncan Fraser said information gathered during Lopez's arrest led them to the body, although neither he nor prosecutors would elaborate.
Superior Court Judge Sim von Kalinowski set Lopez's bail at $3 million. She is due back in court May 2 for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for her to stand trial.
During a news conference Thursday, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declined to provide details regarding Lopez's alleged involvement in Killgore's disappearance and death.
At Lopez's arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza said Lopez was found in a Point Loma motel room suffering from self-inflicted wounds, along with writings described as a suicide note.
He would not provide details on how Killgore died, saying only her death was the result of "homicidal violence."
Killgore vanished after meeting with Staff Sgt. Louis Ray Perez, 45, a Camp Pendleton-based Marine who was subsequently arrested on weapon-theft charges, according to investigators.
Perez, a 16-year veteran assigned to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of possession of stolen property and illegal possession of an assault rifle. But he also is being "actively investigated" in connection with the Killgore case, Fraser said.
Bail was kept high -- $500,000 -- with the judge agreeing that Perez was a flight risk. He is due back in court for a readiness conference April 26 and a preliminary hearing on May 17.
Perez, who faces up to three years and eight months behind bars if convicted on the weapons charges, remains a "person of interest" in Killgore's death and additional charges are possible, Dumanis said.
"Our hearts go out to Brittany's husband, Cory, as well as her family and friends, who are dealing with this sudden loss," Dumanis said. "This case has shaken many in San Diego County and many in the military community at Camp Pendleton."
The county's top prosecutor, without elaborating, said there has been a lot of misinformation in the media about the case. Dumanis urged anyone with information about Killgore's disappearance and death to call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
At an afternoon press conference, Darryl Wrest, Killgore's father, issued the following statement:
Brittany is my daughter. I am here to speak for Brittany as her voice was taken from her. Brittany was a beautiful, kind, caring, young woman trying to find her way in this world.Family and friends love and miss Brittany beyond words. Brittany, was a victim, she did nothing wrong. There have been stories and comments made from people who do not know my daughter and have their own agendas or opinions. These stories have absolutely no basis in fact. Please leave my daughter in peace, she does not deserve to be a victim of lies and innuendo anymore than she deserved to be murdered.We are devastated and ask to be left alone to grieve at this time. Be assured, we will fight for Brittany to ensure justice is served for her.Thank you.
Authorities have not said how Lopez knew Killgore. According to U-T San Diego, public records showed Lopez and Perez once lived in the same Fallbrook apartment, about a half-mile from the apartment Killgore shared with her husband.
A neighbor told the newspaper that Lopez and a female roommate live in same Fallbrook apartment she once shared with Perez, and he was often seen there.
The Lopez family released a statement through an attorney Wednesday:
For identification purposes, we are the parents of Jessica Lopez. This is the only public statement we will be making at this time.We pray for the family of Brittany Killgore and ask that the Lord comfort them during their time of grief and anguish. We ask that you pray for all those impacted by this tragic situation, including our family.We are dealing with a lot as a family right now. We love our daughter Iessica and have nothing to share with you at this time.We acknowledge the media's desire to report accurate news and to be "the first" to cover the events that impact our lives and community. However, we regret that we are not in a position to help you at this time. We must all be patient and let the process and the legal system work.We trust that everything will be revealed in due course. Until then, we pray for Brittany Killgores family, our daughter lessica, and all those affected by this situation.As a family, we ask that you respect and honor our right to privacy. We have children living in our homes. Please do not call our homes, knock on our doors, or camp outside our homes and harass our neighbors and friends. Please do not communicate with us, our children, or our relatives at this time. We ask that you direct all inquiries and communications to our family attorney, Dean Broyles. Thank you.The Lopez Family
Killgore's grandmother, Cheryl Coble of Farmington, Mo., told a hometown newspaper the victim's mother notified San Diego law enforcement about her daughter's disappearance after receiving a call from a stranger who found Killgore's cell phone in the downtown Gaslamp District.
On the night of her disappearance, she was supposed to have gone out with Perez and his girlfriend to a dinner cruise, but it was unclear if the plan came together, Coble told the Daily Journal of Park Hills, Mo. The girlfriend -- it was not immediately clear if she was referring to Lopez -- apparently backed out at the last minute, she added.
Killgore's father and grandfather flew to Southern California this week and handed out photos and information about her, Coble said.
Killgore, a former Missouri resident, had separated from her husband and shipped all her belongings to her parents' home in Pennsylvania, with plans to travel there this week to move back in with them, Coble told the newspaper.
Killgore's family had lived in Rolla, Mo., before relocating to Pennsylvania last fall. Killgore had been looking forward to reuniting with her family, her grandmother said.
"She just wanted to be at her parents' house and just wanted to sit and hold her new niece," Coble told the Daily Journal.
Killgore filed for divorce last week, according to court records. Marine Corps officials agreed to send her husband, Cory, a Pendleton-based Marine, home from Afghanistan following her disappearance. It was unclear when he would return to San Diego County.
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